Does Melatonin Work For Insomnia?
As we already said in a range of texts exploring the hormone, Melatoninis naturally produced in our body by the Pineal Gland in the brain.
It helps regulate our sleep-wake cycle (Circadian rhythm) by lowering our body’s temperature and making us sleepy.
So, Melatonin itself directly make us fall asleep like a sleeping pill would, it’s effects are more subtle.
Today, we explore when and how can melatonin help with insomnia.
When can Melatonin help?
Insomnia can happen by itself, or it can be a side effect or result of some other health issues.
It’s classified as: transient, acute, or chronic, as chronic being the longest lasting and with the most serious effects.
Treatments for insomnia usually do not include taking the medications longer than few weeks, and are more focused on fixing and maintaining sleep hygiene and making some lifestyle changes.
Can Melatonin help you?
The answer to that is, “It depends on the type of your sleeping disorder”. It has proven to help with overcoming jet lag, and problems with sleeping caused by changing work shifts.
If you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder or Delayed Sleep Syndrome, it can also work well for you.
You can read more about Melatonin and when it might be of help with sleep problems at the NCBI website here.
Does Melatonin work for insomnia?
When we talk insomnia, especially serious cases of it, studies have shown that Melatonin is not a long term solution. It may help you fall asleep a couple of minutes faster than you would, but there is no evidence to suggest that it can be a long-term solution.
It might help you in the short-term and give you some relief, but it is still a hormone and the administration of it should not be taken lightly.
Specific cases when melatonin can help
What we said above doesn’t mean that Melatonin can’t help with insomnia that’s not a chronic problem but caused by issues like an especially stressfull period of your life or jet lag.
Below are a few cases where melatonin can indeed help:
- It can help with getting back your Circadian rhythm in a normal pace, after experiencing jet lag. The effect is especially noticeable when changing a lot of time zones in a short period of time, and for some reason, more so when travelling east.
- It helps with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is also known as seasonal depression. Since the level of Melatonin in our bodies starts to grow as it gets darker, here the melatonin supplement acts like a clock that regulates our sleepiness, when we are hit by the effect of longer days at summer or shorter at winter.
- It has shown great results with Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which is when you can’t fall asleep till late at night or early in the morning, but when you do, you sleep a usual amount of time and don’t have any troubles. Here Melatonin works well, because it resets your inner clock.
- Melatonin can be useful for shift workers, as they often have problems sleeping, due to the long work hours they have, usually switching from day shifts to night shifts. If they take the dose at the right time of the day (or night), it can help them fall asleep and get rest.
- With age, level of Melatonin in our bodies lowers, so a % of elderly people tend to have problems sleeping. They often can’t fall asleep, or are easily awaken at night and they can’t go back to sleep. Melatonin supplements can help them fall asleep quicker, but it doesn’t solve a problem of waking up at night.
Conclusions about Melatonin and Insomnia
Although it is a natural supplement, it can cause some side effects, such as: morning grogginess, confusion, stomach problems, nervousness, headaches etc. Most people don’t experience any of this, except when they take a higher dose than they should. So it’s better to start with small dosages (0.3mg – 3mg).
Having said all that, we can conclude that although this natural supplement can help with some sleeping issues, mostly the ones where the problem is a disruption of the sleep-wake cycle, it probably will not help you much if you are battling insomnia.
If you tried it and it didn’t work, you should seek an opinion from your doctor, who can give you diagnose and the right therapy.